MLB All-Star Game 2013: The haters guide to the All-Star Game, the middle years


As if one All-Star Game wasn't enough, in the1960s baseball decided to double up.

Game 18 (1951) at Briggs Stadium, Detroit: NL 8, AL 3

The game was scheduled to be played in Philadelphia, but Detroit was celebrating its 250th anniversary and petitioned to have the game moved. Detroit was at its peak then, with a population of roughly 1.8 million. They didn't know it then, but the city had peaked. In some ways, then, we can retroactively look at this as "The Masque of the Red All-Star Game." For you youngsters out there, that's a reference to Edgar A. Poe, not George R.R. Martin. Ty Cobb threw out the first pitch and White Sox shortstop Chico Carrasquel of Venezuela became the first Latin American to start. Six home runs were hit in this game, four by the NL, one by George Kell, who would subsequently become one of the odder choices by the Hall of Fame Veteran's Committee. "And Darkness and Decay and the Red All-Star Game held illimitable dominion over all."

Game 19 (1952) at Shibe Park, Philadelphia: NL 3, AL 2 (5)

For the first time, rain shortened the All-Star Game. The NL hit two home runs, one by Cubs outfielder Hank Sauer, who would win a fairly random MVP award that fall, the other by Jackie Robinson. The AL MVP for that '52, A's lefty Bobby Shantz, had a great inning in relief, striking out Whitey Lockman, Robinson, and Stan Musial. Today that's a typical outing for Craig Kimbrel, but in 1952 you didn't see that kind of dominant relief work very often.

Game 20 (1953) at Crosley Field, Cincinnati: NL 5, AL 1

The NL won its fourth straight game. Enos "Country" Slaughter, Cardinals outfielder and future Hall of Famer, starred for the NL, going 2-for-3 and making what was reportedly a terrific sliding catch in right field of a line drive by Tigers shortstop Harvey Kuenn. It's not identified as such, but I believe the play in question opens the video just below this paragraph. Funny thing about Country: For a guy whose game was supposedly all about speed and hustle, most images of him as a player show a short, stocky guy who may have busted it out of the box every time, but wasn't all that fast even when he did. Since Slaughter hung on until he was 43 and came down on the wrong side of integration, it's hard to revel in his accomplishments and easier to see him as one of those marginal white stars who would have been just another good player if the majors had truly been open to the best players of his day -- and somewhere inside, he knew it.

Ted Williams, sucked back into the military by the Korean War, threw out the first pitch in this one, suggesting just how close his career came to being over in the early 50s.

Game 21 (1954) at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland: AL 11, NL 9

A seesaw game in which three hometown players starred. Second baseman Bobby Avila, maybe still the greatest of Mexican-born position players, went 3-for-3 with two RBI (he would win the AL batting title). Between injuries and the war, third baseman Al Rosen didn't have a long career, but he had one of the highest peaks of any third baseman. Part of that was hitting two home runs in this game. Larry Doby became the first African American player to homer in an All-Star Game with a game-tying pinch-hit solo home run in the bottom of the eighth. The big controversy in this game was whether AL pitcher Dean Stone balked when he hurried his delivery to catch Red Schoendienst, who was attempting a straight steal of home. You can see the play and the ensuing argument at 1:33 in the video below. The two coaches berating the umpire are Leo Durocher, manager of the Giants, and Charlie Grimm, manager of the Braves.

Game 22 (1955) at Milwaukee County Stadium, Milwaukee: NL 6, AL 5

Another extra-inning contest, and everyone except marmots have now played in the All-Star game (we may still be awaiting the arrival of the first Red Sox African American All-Star, which was probably Reggie Smith in 1969, but I'm not certain) so we can concentrate on the actual contests. Then again, we'll have to focus on the first game hosted by an expansion team, the first played on turf, and so on. This was actually the first game played outside of the decrepit old stadiums of the East, so that counts. Also, the actual contests are generally no fun. Stan Musial played in his first All-Star game in 1943 and 12 years later he was still there, hitting a walk-off home run off of Red Sox righty Frank Sullivan, pitching in his only All-Star game. Future Red Sox hurler Gene Conley, then with the Braves, had whiffed Al Kaline, Mickey Vernon, and Al Rosen in the top of the inning.

Game 23 (1956) at Griffith Stadium, Washington: NL 7, AL 3

The AL was down 5-0 early as a succession of pitchers got pounded, the highlight being Willie Mays hitting one out off of Whitey Ford. The AL woke up in the bottom of the sixth when Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams hit back-to-back homers off of Warren Spahn, but the NL just kept adding and the game was never really close. Mantle always said Williams' theories on hitting confused him, so the fact that he and the Splinter were actually successful together sounds like the culmination of some baseball buddy movie we never saw. Phillies right-hander Robin Roberts made seven All-Star teams; 1956 was his last, though he pitched for another 10 years. He was more or less pounded in all of them except this one -- he didn't pitch.

Game 24 (1957) at Sportsman's Park, St. Louis: AL 6, NL 5

This was the game in which fans in Cincinnati submitted half a million pre-marked ballots and swamped the All-Star team with every player to swear a Reds uniform going back to 1876. Commissioner Ford Frick dropped a couple of them off the squad, although one of them, Gus Bell, was later reinstated. Frick punished Cincinnati by taking the vote away from all fans, apparently working under the lame, "See? You've spoiled it for everybody!" theory of classroom management. The vote wouldn't be restored to fans until 1970.

Game 26 (1959) at Forbes Field, Pittsburgh: NL 5, AL 4

If you thought one All-Star game was bad, try having two every year. From 1959 through 1962, baseball played two midsummer classicses. Which one is the "real" All-Star Game? Which should count for more? I don't know, which is why we're now going to skip ahead to 1964, the 1963 game having been uneventful.

Game 35 (1964) at Shea Stadium, New York: NL 7, AL 4

Casey Stengel, Mets manager, was a coach for this one. He had been a professional baseball player since 1910, had first reached the majors in 1912, hit the first home run in Ebbets Field in 1913, and more than half a century later was still around for the first All-Star game in Shea -- and not as a spectator, but as a participant. Although the many All-Star teams he managed often came away losers, this time his side won. The AL took a 4-3 lead to the bottom of the ninth, but AL closer Dick "The Monster" Radatz (Red Sox), then in the midst of his third and last great season (imagine Aroldis Chapman pitching 120-150 innings a year out of the bullpen), ran out of gas in his second inning of work. He walked Willie Mays to open the frame. Mays stole second, then scored on a single by Orlando Cepeda/E-3 by the Yankees' Joe Pepitone. Radatz intentionally walked Reds catcher Johnny Edwards and struck out Hank Aaron, but Phillies outfielder Johnny Callison put a ball in the seats for a walk-off three-run homer.

Game 36 (1965) at Metropolitan Stadium, Minnesota: NL 6, AL 5

The AL so dominated the early years of the All-Star Game that the NL considered backing out of the annual contest to save face. With this win, they took the lead in the all-time series 18-17-1 (the -1 being a 1-1 tie in the second game of 1961). The racial imbalance between the two leagues is often cited as the reason for the NL's comeback, and probably not unfairly. There was also the way so much pitching talent seemed to reside in the senior circuit at this time. Among those pitching for the NL in this game: Juan Marichal, Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson. Among those pitching for the AL: Milt Pappas, Mudcat Grant, Sam McDowell. These were fine pitchers, but not quite of the same quality.

Game 37 (1966) at Busch Stadium, St. Louis: NL 2, AL 1

It was 105 degrees during the game. Casey Stengel, asked what he thought of the Cardinals' new ballpark, said, "It sure holds the heat well." Naturally the game went 10 innings. Cardinals catcher Tim McCarver scored the winning run, coming around on a Maury Wills single. He'll tell you all about it -- just ask him.

Game 38 (1967) at Anaheim Stadium, Anaheim: NL 2, AL 1

A 15-inning snooze-fest and/or pitchers' showcase, depending on your point of view. The two leagues combined for nine Hall of Famers in the starting lineup, and a 10th, Joe Torre, will be in soon. The game was won by Don Drysdale, lost by Catfish Hunter, and the save went to Tom Seaver. In between the two teams combined for a record 30 strikeouts. Tony Perez delivered the go-ahead run, a solo shot off of Hunter -- for a great pitcher, Hunter was generous with the home runs and liked to admire some of the longer shots he gave up, saying things like, "Did you see that one? It brought rain." Dick Allen provided the NL's other run with a solo shot off of two-time 20-game winner Dean Chance. Arm problems limited Chance's career, but for a little while he was as good as any of the 60s greats.

Game 39 (1968) at the Astrodome, Houston: NL 1, AL 0

The first All-Star Game played indoors was another weak offering, the sole run of the game scoring in the bottom of the first when Willie Mays hit a ground single, advanced to second on a wild pickoff throw, moved to third on a wild pitch, and then scored on a double-play grounder. Mays played in a million All-Star Games, generally excelled, and the only shame is that they didn't play any on the moon because he would have been good there too.

Game 40 (1969) at RFK Memorial Stadium, Washington, D.C.: NL 9, AL 3

The NL won its seventh straight game after a one-day postponement due to rain. Reggie Jackson started in center field for the AL, which is hard for those of us who remember Billy Martin saying things like, "It's not that Reggie is a bad outfielder, he just has trouble judging the ball and picking it up" to picture. The NL batted around in the third inning, scoring five runs, and Willie McCovey of the Giants hit two homers. The hometown fans had to settle for a solo shot by big Frank Howard off of Steve Carlton.

Game 41 (1970) at Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati: NL 5, AL 4

This was the game in which Pete Rose creamed Indians catcher Ray Fosse at the plate to score the winning run. Fosse suffered a separated shoulder and was never the same. Depending on your point of view, Rose made a great hustling play or was totally out of line given that this was an exhibition game. Since this is the All-Star Game Hater's Guide, you can guess which way the author leans. Thanks to Charlie Hustle's murderous rage, the NL won its eighth straight game.

Game 42 (1971) at Tiger Stadium, Detrot: AL 6, NL 4

Six home runs were hit in this game, but really all anyone remembers is that Reggie Jackson hit a ball up on the roof of Tiger Stadium. Everyone who homered in the game would go on to the Hall of Fame; Jackson was joined by Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Frank Robinson, Johnny Bench, and Harmon Killebrew. This would be the last All-Star Game won by the AL for a long, long time.

Game 43 (1972) at Atlanta Stadium, Atlanta: NL 4, AL 3

Another extra-inning game, another blown lead for the AL. The AL had figured out the whole relief-pitcher thing going back to 1947, when the Yankees' Joe Page, who had two of the best early "fireman" seasons. Later, the pendulum swung back to using starters late. The NL trailed 3-2 going to the ninth, but tied things up off of knuckleballer Wilbur Wood with a scintillating RBI groundout by Astros first baseman Lee May. Wood was insanely good in 1971 and 1972, but it turns out that even chunky knuckleball pitchers have their limits. The NL won the game in the bottom of the 10th on an RBI single by Reds second baseman Joe Morgan. Tug McGraw, a relief ace used in his normal role by NL manager Danny Murtaugh, struck out four in two scoreless innings for the win.

Game 45 (1974) at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh: NL 7 AL 2

Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey wasn't listed on the ballot but made the team as a write-in candidate, which according to my information was accomplished by one graduate student with a computer and a devious mind. He played the whole game, going 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored -- apparently the theory was that if the fans wanted Garvey they were going to get him, even as players like Joe Morgan and Hank Aaron took an at-bat or two and hit the showers.

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